Tiny Theatre Tips #4: Fitness For Actors

Welcome to Tiny Theatre Tips, a series of brief posts sharing tips and advice for your theatre life! Enjoy!

Tiny Theatre Tips #4: Fitness For Actors

Tiny Theatre Tips #4: Fitness For Actors

Disclaimer: I am not a fitness trainer or medical professional. It is strongly recommended that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise or fitness program!

Acting is an incredibly physical undertaking. Frequent rehearsals (often late into the night) and multiple performances each week can take a toll on your body. Not to mention actors often have to perform highly physical acts — anything from singing and dancing to stage combat and stunt work to tumbling, running, jumping, squatting, leaping, and many other feats of physicality. And of course, actors need to fit into their costumes, which could be tight, short, transparent, a combination of all three, or even less (hello, Rocky Horror Show).

It’s important for actors to be physically fit; not just to look good onstage and to fit into their costumes (both of which are vital!), but also to be able to maintain the stamina to complete their shows each day, and to feel good. There is nothing worse than feeling crummy and having to drag yourself through a rehearsal — everything just feels that much more difficult. Or worse, trying to power through a performance when you’re feeling less than your best. Staying physically fit can help actors to look and feel their best each day.

What kind of exercise is best for actors? That depends on the actor, and the role they are playing! Dancers and stage combatants need to practice their craft (generally through classes and/or private training). Depending on what kind of role you are playing, you will need to look the part. An actor playing a professional wrestler would have to have a very different physique than an actor portraying a cancer patient, or an elderly person, or an animal. Your director can advise exactly what sort of look they think the character would have, and a physician or personal trainer can devise a fitness plan to help you achieve the look you want.

However, I believe any actor can benefit from a combination of cardiovascular exercise (running, swimming, biking, rollerblading and so on) to improve stamina, as well as strength training (don’t worry, you won’t turn into The Rock if you lift weights!) with some yoga thrown in for good measure (I think EVERYONE can benefit from yoga), to help maintain a healthy body and active lifestyle. Even 15 minutes a day is better than nothing!

Exercise is proven to make you feel better, relieve stress, and help you sleep better. I don’t see any downsides!

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Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo

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The Three Tools Every Actor Has At Their Disposal (No Storage Necessary!)

The Three Tools Every Actor Has At Their Disposal (No Storage Necessary!)

Every skill, trade and art has their own tools. Painters have their brushes; carpenters have their hammers; stylists have their scissors. While actors do have physical toolkits, they also have three tools at their disposal at all times — no baggage necessary! What are those tools? I’m so glad you asked!

Your Body (including your face)

Actors use their bodies to shape their characters, to move around the space, and to perform skills such as dance choreography, stage combat, tumbling, puppetry and more. Actors use their faces to express the emotions that their character is feeling. Actors’ bodies and faces can be used as canvasses for incredible costumes and gorgeous makeup, or to carry in fabulous props. Bodies can be used in tableau scenes to create atmosphere and transform the stage into a living thing.

Your Voice

An actor’s voice can be used to express their innermost thoughts through monologue, or soar through a gorgeous aria or ballad. Actors can create sound effects and soundscapes through their voices. A whisper or a shout used effectively can pull an audience in and have them eating out of the palm of your hand.

Your Imagination (mind, brain, thoughts, creativity…)

Imagination brings the body and the voice together. As performing artists, we are only limited by our imaginations. I’m betting someone reading this just thought “And budgets!” and to that I say — some of the most incredible performances I’ve seen were nothing more than an actor in an open space, performing their heart out. Imagination trumps budget every time.

Your imagination turns you from just a person to any character you could conceive of. Your imagination can create worlds. Your imagination takes your body and voice and combines (or removes one of them!) to create different kinds of theatre. Take away the body and create a soundscape. Take away the voice and create a mime or tableau scene. Or use all three tools to create something entirely different and fascinating!

What will you create with your actor’s tools?
Share your ideas with me on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo

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3 Quick Tips for Your Next Musical Theatre Audition (Video Post!)

3 Quick Tips for Your Next Musical Theatre Audition (Video Post!)

I have been wanting to make YouTube videos for a verrrrrrry long time, but I have yet to really get the guts up to do one. Well, recent inspiration from Sarah Starrs, Gala Darling, and Veronica Varlow have pushed me to get over myself and film something!

Presenting… 3 Quick Tips for Your Next Musical Theatre Audition, via Periscope!

I am LOVING Periscope. It is such a cool app that allows you to broadcast a video, live from wherever you are, and to tune in to other people’s ‘scopes from around the world! You can interact with the broadcaster and other viewers as well! The only caveat is that Periscopes are only available for 24 hours after they’re recorded… unless you save them to your phone, which I did!

I filmed this Periscope yesterday (based on this post back from 2012), saved it, added a couple of titles in iMovie, and uploaded it to YouTube! It’s a little wobbly, but I’m really excited to share it with you! Progress!

(If you’re reading this post via email or RSS, click here to watch the video!)

My goal going forward is to broadcast a minimum of one Periscope per week, and I’d love it if you joined me there — my handle is kerryhishon! If you have any topics you’d like me to talk about, be sure to let me know in the comments below!

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The Conchologist Opens Today!

The Conchologist Opens Today!

I’m excited to announce that THE CONCHOLOGIST: A DREAM OF EDGAR ALLEN POE, opens tonight! This has been a very challenging show to work on, with lots of physicality to explore and weirdly wonderful characters to develop!

We’ve been featured in the London Free Press, be sure to check it out!

On October 3, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found drunken and dishevelled on the streets of Baltimore. He entered into a three-day coma from which he never recovered, dying on Oct. 7. Rip’s play explores what went on in the famed writer’s mind while unconscious. According to Rip “the events and characters of his troubled life and times became the entirety of his perceived world.” He is visited by his dead wife Sissy, as well as a menagerie of personal symbols: a raven, a gold bug, a black cat, and an orangutan. Aside from being a master of macabre fiction, said Rip, Poe had a secret love of seashells.

The Conchologist Opens Today!


A Play Written & Directed by Jason Rip
Assistant Directed by Kim Kaitell
Designed by Sue Parke
Original Music by Anne Moniz
Choreography by Melanie Stewart
Starring Chris Bancroft, Helen Hey, Franklin Davis, Marina Sheppard, Kerry Hishon, Rachel Haich, & Remi Kaitell

Tickets $20 (General Admission)
The ARTS Project – 203 Dundas Street, London ON

Wednesday October 21 at 8 pm
Thursday October 22 at 8 pm
Friday October 23 at 8 pm
Saturday October 24 at 2 pm (pay-what-you-can) and 8 pm

Tickets are available at The ARTS Project box office, by calling 519-642-2767 or online!  See you at the theatre!

Poster Art: Muckney Tipping
Photo Credit: Richard Gilmore

Wednesday Words of Wisdom – Johnny Galecki

Wednesday Words of Wisdom - Johnny Galecki

“As they say, there are two rules in improv: Never say no, and never ask why. When another actor asks ‘Why?’ or says no to something you’re suggesting, then it’s very clear that they’re putting the onus on you, because they’re not comfortable with it themselves.”

Johnny Galecki, actor (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Roseanne”)